Date: 28th November 2005 at 1:28pm
Written by:

WEST HAM: Carroll, Repka, Ferdinand, Gabbidon, Konchesky, Benayoun, Noble, Mullins (Zamora 72), Etherington (Newton 89), Harewood, Sheringham (Dailly 71).
Subs Not Used: Hislop, Aliadiere.

MAN UTD: Van der Sar, Brown, Ferdinand, Silvestre (Neville 37), O’Shea, Fletcher, Smith, Scholes, Park, Rooney, van Nistelrooy (Richardson 90).
Subs Not Used: Howard, Ronaldo, Saha.

Att: 34,755

This was not the time to ask if Wayne Rooney has what it takes to match, or even better, the great George Best. But on a day when memories were firmly fixed on the Belfast Boy, it was a joy to watch someone light up such a fixture to bring joy to the United faithful.

Let’s leave the debate for another day, and just say this was a fitting tribute to a United legend.

Following emotional introductions by Sir Trevor Brooking and Sir Bobby Charlton, it was hoped the West Ham fans would not follow the antics of Leeds, Man City and Liverpool fans on Saturday. But it would be an insult to them to even suggest it, because they observed the occasion in an impeccable manner.

However the West Ham team were in little mood to offer much sign of sympathy on the pitch, as they took the lead after just 52 seconds. Matthew Etherington scampered away down the left wing, and to the edge of the area. His low ball in behind the defence picked out the advancing Harewood, who had timed his run to perfection, and he beat Edwin van der Sar from close range with an instinctive low strike.

United came out in determined mood in the second-half and were level inside two minutes. Tomas Repka’s attempted clearance from the edge of a crowded penalty box was deflected back towards his goal. Park was first to the loose ball, and played in Rooney. The England striker turned Gabbidon inside out, before dispatching a low drive past Carroll from 10 yards for his fifth league goal of the season.

Rooney could have added a second goal but ‘aired’ a shot in front of goal, but it was not long before the United fans were celebrating again on 56 minutes.

Another foraging run and shot from Rooney forced a corner on the right. His delivery went deep across the six-yard box. Carroll came to claim the high ball, but O’Shea produced a towering leap to beat the ‘keeper and power a header into the net.